New Mercedes A-Class is a techno star
I got a chance to talk to Oliver Zolke, Project Leader on A-Class at the launch of the new premium compact hatchback this week.
While the undoubted star of the new A-Class is the MBUX infotainment system with its twin screens as standard, there’s a lot more to the new A-Class than just MBUX. As you might expect.
“It’s a brand new car – only the rear axle has been carried over,” Oliver told me.
I asked Oliver (pictured left) what really pleased him – MBUX excepting – about the new car. “There’s not one thing,” he responded. “It’s how we’ve improved the car overall. It still looks like the previous generation – which is a good thing – but it’s more aggressive, sportier. For example, we lowered the bonnet by 50mm. That’s quite some piece of engineering.
“We also worked on visibility and kept the pillars really slim. For example we rejected the idea of an assisted rear boot because that would have added 20mm for the power unit to raise it.
“We also benchmarked our competitors on areas such as ride and handling and quality. I think the result is really good on all those objectives. The new A-class is much quieter, rides better and is more engaging to drive. It’s all round a more superior car than the one it replaces.”
I said one of the things that really impressed me were the haptics – the feel of the controls for the MBUX for example; the click sound that the system makes as you scroll through the various function windows is the same as the turn indicator for instance.
Oliver laughed. “We spent so much time on getting these little details right! For instance, the two outer vents are larger than the three central vents. Both are made by different suppliers. But we had to make the action of opening and closing the vents feel exactly the same. That’s important attention to detail. It took a while!”
New WLTP testing regime puts upward pressure on CO2
You might have heard of WLTP. It’s a welcome new form of testing the mpg and emissions of new cars that gives a more realistic appraisal of what they will achieve.
However, this does have its downsides. One of which is limited availability of vehicles as manufacturers struggle to get new cars tested. So if you’re looking for a new car you may have to wait longer than anticipated.
The other is the way testing increases CO2 – which will have an adverse affect on VED bands and on company car tax. And particularly badly hit are PHEVs – like the Mitsubishi Outlander pictured. More on the special report from cap hpi here.
Nissan’s new tough mudder
Want in your face? Then it doesn’t come much tougher, more extreme than this latest Nissan Navara, put through a muscle building gym regime and fed protein shakes to within an inch of its enormous wheel arches by Icelandic off-road specialists Arctic Trucks.
So here’s to mud in your eye – read more about the Navara AT32.
Gen Z goes multi-modal
I’ve wondered what car companies are going to do in the future. And I’m sure their CEOs are pondering the same question.
But with a mindset built around more sales, what happens when we don’t want so many cars? Possibly when autonomous cars arrive? Or will the Generation Z hasten the change in the manufacturer mindset?
That’s very much the case in this intriguing report from Frost & Sullivan: Gen Z pushing mobility towards multi-modal usage pattern.
It’s just one of the items also under discussion at a two day conference called Intelligent Mobility where Business Car Manager is one of the media partners. It will make for a fascinating event – June 19-20 in London.
Tennis star Andy Murray goes electric
While Sir Andy’s tennis injury has kept him off the tennis scene, it’s not kept him getting a shift-on elsewhere. This week the Wimbledon champ went electric taking delivery of the highly desirable fast-moving Jaguar I-Pace.
Hopefully when Andy returns, he’ll be fully electric on the courts, too. Fingers crossed.
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